How are you my dear friends? Are you loving each moment? Ok, maybe not each moment because we know that the human experience contains all types of emotions, BUT are you having moments of enjoyment? If not, it’s good to ask why not. That’s part of what I’d like to talk about this week. I want to talk to you about three things today: the industrialized food system, inflammation, and food as medicine. These are big topics so grab some tea and get comfy.
Let me paint you a picture: If you’ve heard any of my stories in the past, you may know about the health issues I experienced over 20 years ago and how I began to learn about the impact of food on the body. For most of my life, I just didn’t know about the connection of food and how it influences not just the physical body, but also the mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual bodies. In high school, I was drinking a Coke for breakfast and maybe a hot dog. I preferred a Big Mac for lunch or a milkshake with Little Debbie sweets. I spent most of my high school experience battling an undiagnosed depression with suicidal ideation, while I self-medicated with alcohol and sugar. It was a mess. Before even this point, I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia at a very young age.
What I didn’t know was that the food I was eating was fueling how I felt—how ALL of me felt. Yes, I heard that I should “eat” a certain way, but no one connected that to how I was feeling the acne on my face or even the issues I was having with my menstrual cycle.
Now, I grew up in a middle class white family; we had enough money for food. My mother knew that vegetables were important. I was not weighed down by what MOST of society has to deal with regarding food insecurity and challenges with accessing healthy food. The food that was available though, was a product of the industrialized food system; the Big Macs, Cokes, Little Debbie cakes, and the milkshakes. This is what was fueling my body (or not fueling the body).
What is the industrialized food system? It is the dominant way that food is delivered to people in the United States, and it’s a highly processed system that results in “foods” that are many iterations away from the natural state of food. It tends to come in a box, or in plastic and has not only very little nutritional value, but also is a high source of inflammation—more on that in a minute.
So this food that comes from the industrialized food system is what we have access to in the grocery store; it’s what we are marketed to in commercials. We are told “You deserve a treat!” and then shown how these products you can buy are the answer to “what we deserve because we’ve worked hard”. The industrialized food system is not set up to support health or wellness—that’s not it’s job. It is designed to sell more items off the shelf and to make corporations money. What we know about sugar is that it releases dopamine—totally fine, we all need a little dopamine surge occasionally, but the foods from these corporations are designed with the right amount of sugar and fat to leave your brain wanting more, and to make it more difficult to NOT eat them. They are designed for addiction.
Add to it that sugar and fat are cheaper for the company to add rather than other ingredients. That means that higher processed food is less expensive (and therefore more available) than less processed alternatives.
If you wanted to play devil’s advocate, you could potentially stretch the goal of the industrialized food system to make access to food easier. Running late? Grab a bag of chips and a Coke and something from fast food. The convenience of it is just as addictive as the sugar and fat.
For someone like me, just watching fast food or processed food commercials make me crazy because they make it look so good, but don’t talk about the shadow side of the food: inflammation.
As a result of these particular types of fats and sugars, the body reacts with inflammation. Now inflammation is a natural act of the body, but what we are seeing now is an epidemic of inflammation and the resulting health conditions that happen as a result. The body gets stuck in inflammation which can lead to rheumatoid arthritis or other auto-immune disorders. Inflammation is also connected to blood sugar, which influences many other different diseases such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease—just to name a few.
The good news is that inflammation and blood sugar can both be altered using food as medicine. The food that you eat can reverse many of the inflammatory disorders as well as heart disease, and it can prevent a stroke or even cancer. Food can nourish your body in ways you might not have known. Science is still finding the potential benefits of certain foods. Just a few examples would be the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger and turmeric; the beneficial omega 3 fatty acids from walnuts; the antioxidants in leafy greens like broccoli or kale; or from fruits like wild blueberries.
I hear many people worry that they will have to deny themselves pleasure if they eat anti-inflammatory or healthy food. They worry it will take too long, and that it just isn’t possible, so they give up before they even know what is needed, or what to try. They feel like they need to have comfort food and they equate comfort food with highly processed food. Most people want food that is easy, and when you look around and see everyone else eating the Standard American Diet, you may notice that you get angry that you have to do something different to help your health. The industrialized food system has sold them the picture of what it is supposed to be like: fast and easy with no repercussions. But that is a lie. There are repercussions to eating all foods, it just differs from food to food.
Listen, eating these over processed representations of food is not going to support your mental, emotional or physical health. Wanting comfort food is just another example that there are emotions there that haven’t been processed. When you reach for the Ho Hos or the super easy treat on a regular basis, it will add inflammation to your body, and will put your 5 wellness bodies out of alignment.
Here’s what I want you to know. I’m not saying this food is inherently good or bad. No. I just want you to know what is happening internally that you can’t see. If you are fighting inflammation, then know what happens when you eat more inflammatory foods. Eating the Ho Hos isn’t going to help you feel better.
Does it mean you can’t have sweets? Also no! It’s about choosing sweets that are less inflammatory. I make chocolate cookies that are made with whole natural foods, and the chocolate chips are the worst part of them.
And at the bottom of all of this -at the very core foundation- is something crucial to taking care of your health: self-compassion. Self-compassion is what gives you the ability to see the person who is struggling against the industrialized food system and the messages of what you are “supposed” to eat. You can also have compassion for the person who is addicted to sugar and the not healthy forms of fat. You can have compassion for the part of us who wants to eat our emotions or feel like we have some form of control by what we eat. You can have compassion for the part of you who wants to feel better and have a more healthy body.
Begin to practice meeting yourself with love and compassion so you can nourish your body and be in your full magic. And as I’ve shared before, you can begin by asking yourself: “What would love do?” or “If I eat this, how will my body feel tomorrow?”
Ok my friends. That was a lot of information and I hope it’s helpful to see the background of where food comes from and how we can approach it all with love. Thank you so much for listening. Please take a moment and rate and review this podcast. It helps more people find it and the message of the Whole Body Upgrade to get out into the world. Take good care of yourself.